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Four Ways To Be More Confident And Get What You Want

Four Ways To Be More Confident And Get What You Want

People have often told me that I seem to always get what I want. I quip back that it’s because I usually want what I get; but there is more to it than that. The more I sharpen my skills at achieving goals and the more I learn how to be more confident, the more prepared I am to get what I want. Read on for some tips to help you get better at getting what you want and feeling confident along the way.

Know what you want, not what you don’t want.

If you decide to go on a vacation but you pull out a map and say, “I don’t want to go to Delaware, I don’t want to go to Wyoming, I don’t want to go to Idaho…” and so on, you will never get anywhere. To make the vacation happen you need to choose where you will go, who you want to go with, how you will get there and other criteria. Research shows that a person is more likely to achieve a goal that is stated in the positive over a goal that is negatively stated.

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Know yourself.

There are three key questions that you should ask yourself when you are trying to get what you want and feel confident about it. The first question would be, “Is what I want under my control?” What is your sphere of influence with regard to your goal? In couples counseling, I heard one spouse tell me that they wanted their significant other to be more happy. My response was, “You can’t have that.” Sure we all want our loved ones to be happy but we really have no control over their insides. So I asked the person, “What would it do for you if your spouse was more happy?” And the answer surprised them; “I would be more happy.” “Now that is a goal that is within your control,” I replied. Make sure what you want is under your control and that you do not have to rely on anyone else to get it.

The second question is, “How will I know when I achieve this goal?” Make sure this answer is not a fluff answer but one solidly recognizable to your eyes, ears, nose and touch. I once asked a friend who was going through a crisis, “What do you want to have happen through all of this?” They told me, “I want to come out of this a better person.” While it was a worthy goal, it was severely undefined. Better how? Better in what contexts? When could better actually be worse? As I asked these questions and others that put skin on the outcome, he was almost able to taste the final product. As a result, he felt more confident about attaining it.

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The third question has to do with ecology. Not the “go green for the planet kind” but a concern for how having this outcome will impact you and those around you. I heard a story about a life coach who was approached by a client just before his skiing trip to Colorado. Her client wanted to learn ways to be more confident as he was skiing. Being “helpful” she pulled out some of the best tricks in her bag so that he would feel confident as he flew down those slick, crisp, white slopes. The problem is, he came back with a broken collar bone and a cracked ankle. He was a novice skier taking on a slope that was beyond his skill level. Unfortunately, he and his life coach did not go over crucial ecology questions that would have revealed that the client first needed to gain competency before he got to feel confidence. Look at the downsides to your outcome and address those before you proceed.

Plan the steps and calculate what they will cost you.

You have heard the cliches no doubt: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Eat an elephant one bite at a time, etc. The truth is, anything is possible when broken down into small enough steps. When you conceptualize the steps to achieving your goal and you think about the resources you will need to get there, you put yourself in a position to take risks that actually make sense. Not only that, you have reduced the fear of the unknown to a controllable volume that will make it a resource for you. Yes, fear is a resource. It causes us to pause and re-think our strategies, our commitment, and our resources. When you deal with the fear, you come out more prepared and confident.

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Stay flexible and settle for more than what you wanted.

Flexibility is the key to getting what you want and feeling confident about it. If you have something that you really do want, you know you have the influence to get it, you will recognize it once you have achieved it, it won’t get you into trouble having it, and you have the resources to get it, then you have a green light to throw everything into this goal with one caution–do not get attached to how you achieve it. You may think the final outcome will look exactly like you first imagined it and you will have achieved it exactly according to plan. Not always so. Sometimes the universe has it’s own influence in your plan and you have to adjust the course.

If you run into obstacles, use them as an opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate: Is this outcome worth having? Can I still control it? Do I have enough resources or do I need to go outside of myself for help? Is the goal shaping up differently and is the end product still what I want but in a different form? Am I now aware of consequences to having this goal that I was not aware of before? What will having this outcome do for me? If after these questions you still have a green light, it is worthwhile to push forward through the obstacle with confidence and tenacity. If you cannot answer all of them to your satisfaction it may be a sign to start all over with a new outcome at a different level.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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